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‘Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being invited to dance’. (Verna Myers)
The problem: barriers to playing mainstream youth football
Over approximately 20 years, both authors have felt fortunate to have had the opportunities to develop clinical and research interests in para sports and para football (soccer). Many years ago, the lead author was asked if a young footballer could play mainstream football with a prosthesis and whether another child with disability could play mainstream football outside of their prescribed age group. This led to collaborative efforts with The Football Association (FA) in England and the development and refinement of solutions to ensure that inclusion, diversity and equity are championed across football in England, promoting regular participation by as many as possible.
The aim: equity, diversity and inclusion for all children wishing to play football
Much like school year groups which are arranged according to birth dates, in most countries children’s sport and football are also organised by a similar system, meaning that children play with peers of similar age and maturity.1 However, some children may have physical or mental health issues, significant psychosocial challenges, or simply be schooled in a year below their prescribed age group and unable to play football with their peers. If these children were to play in their ‘prescribed’ year group, they may experience discrimination, not enjoy …
Contributors The manuscript was drafted by RW, with feedback from OHA.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.